When these teams met 18 days ago in Blacksburg everything went so well for 30 minutes. Florida State avoided its typical slow start, seizing control of the game from the tip. The teams traded blows throughout the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second half, and with 10 minutes left the Noles still retained a five point lead.
Then Boris Bojanovsky and Virginia Tech's Seth Allen banged heads, and Bojo was sent to the locker room. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but that's when FSU fell apart.
Virginia Tech (18-13, 10-8) would win by 10.
All Virgnia Tech has done since then is win another four straight, including a season finale blowout of Miami. None of those four teams managed to score more than a point per possession versus the Hokies, and the average margin of victory was over 10.
It's clear that Virginia Tech is peaking at the right time, and for the Noles to have any chance of the NCAA tournament, this is an absolute must win game.
The Hokies offense is fueled by their ability to get to the line. They take more free throws than any team in the country, and attempted 27 in the first game versus FSU.
But the real reason they beat the Noles (aside from FSU's defense falling apart) was that they went nuts from deep, knocking down 58% of their 3s (to 30% for FSU). They're not a bad shooting team, but they certainly aren't great, and currently rank 133rd nationally in 3-pt%.
Seth Allen (29% from the arc), and Justin Robinson (36%) combined to make 7-8 vs the Noles. If that happens again, then I will see you in the NIT.
Florida State's defense, which has now held three straight opponents below a point per possession, will have to be crisp today. Playing back-to-back games is always a concern, but bigs Boris Bojanovsky and Jarquez Smith only played 13 and 12 minutes respectively, so they should be 100%. The smaller players shouldn't have any issues with their legs tonight.
The game will be the final of four played today in Washington DC, and is scheduled to tip at 9:30. It will be broadcast on ESPN2 and the Noles opened as 2.5 point favorites.